Craig Elachie (The rock of alarm).
Gules, three antique crowns Or.
A burning hill Proper.
(on a compartment embellished with seedling Scots pines fructed Proper) Two savages, wreathed about the head and middle with laurel, each bearing on his exterior shoulder a club Proper.
A sprig of Scots pine fructed Proper environed of the circlet of a Baron's coronet.
Seedling Scots pines fructed Proper.
s one of the half-dozen most powerful and known for being one of the most close knit of all the Scottish Clans, the Grants have held land in the largest valley in the Highlands since 1316. The Grant Clan has evolved and flourished in often very difficult circumstances and, in recent centuries, has spread out across the globe as an important part of the great emigration from the Highlands, which has resulted in millions of people of Highland descent living in continents far away from Scotland.
It is impossible to trace the ancestry of the Chiefs of Grant back in time beyond the Middle Ages with any certainty because history is fundamentally a matter of written evidence, and the surviving records of the mediaeval Highlands are regrettably sparse.
Nevertheless, there are several theories concerning the origins of the early Chiefs of Grant towards which the Clan Grant Society adopts a neutral stance.
The relevant documentary evidence, that does survive, points to Sir Laurence le Grant, Sheriff of Inverness who rendered accounts to the Scottish Exchequer in 1263 and 1266 as being among the earliest of the Grants in the Highlands.
Richard le Grant, Chancellor of the diocese of Lincoln, was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in 1229.
In 1261, King Henry III of England named William le Graunt as having recently set out for Scotland with the Scottish King, Alexander III.
The earliest records of land being owned by Grants in the Highlands, in a manner of territorial designation were probably in Stratherrick, just East of Loch Ness. They were to pass subsequently into the control of Clan Fraser, though not before John Grant of Inverallan sold his lands in mid-Strathspey to John le Grant, father of Patrick le Grant, Lord of Stratherrick in 1316. John and Patrick le Grant may have been son and grandson, respectively, of Sheriff Sir Laurence le Grant, but there is no known contemporary evidence for this. For much of the later 14th and early 15th Centuries, the exact line of descent is not traceable from the surviving documents.
By 1434, however, there is a surviving reference to Duncan le Grant, later Sir Duncan Grant of Freuchie (Castle Grant,) from whom the Chiefs of Grant descend in known name and succession to the present day. Sir Duncan also inherited lands in and near “the Glen of Heroes” (the valley of the Dulnain, the main left-bank tributary of the upper Spey) through his mother, Matilda of Glencarnie, whose family had owned them in part from about 1180.
It was in 1180 that King William the Lion had granted them the lands of Kinveachy, about ten miles southwest of the site of Castle Grant (Freuchie,) to Gilbert, 3rd Earl of Strathern. Over 800 years later, Kinveachy is still owned by a Grant, the 13th Earl of Seafield, who is a 2nd cousin of the present Chief of Clan Grant, Sir James Grant of Grant, 6th Baron Strathspey, both direct descendants of Earl Gilbert.
By the late 15th Century, Clan Grant was a real power in the Highlands. The exercise of this power lead to some of the darker chapters in the Clan’s history when the actions of Clan Grant lead to the murder of the Earl of Moray and later the defeat of the Earl of Argyll at Glenlivet.
In the 16th Century, Sir James Grant of Grant, the 16th Chief of Clan Grant, rallied Clan Grant to the Royalist cause and raised King Charles I’s standard in the Highlands.
An unlikely alliance between Sir James Grant of Grant and the Earl of Huntly lead to the almost complete annihilation of the Farquharson Clan. About a year later, so the story goes, Sir James was dining with the Earl of Huntly who offered to show his guest a rare spectacle. Apparently they went to a balcony at Huntly Castle and watched the starving children of the Farquharsons fighting over scraps of food in the courtyard below. Sir James could not bear this sight, was overcome with remorse, and persuaded his host to place the children in his care. The Farquharson children were taken to Strathspey and raised among the Grants. To this day, the Farquharsons are known unkindly as “the children of the trough.”
After the Union of the Crowns in 1705, the two uprisings in 1715 and 1745 divided the clans and families. Every clan had a part that supported the Hanoverians and another that supported the Jacobites.
The Grants of Freuchie were Hanoverians and joined Colonel Livingstone with a force of 600 men and fought against the Jacobites at the Haughs of Cromdale. Later they fought against the Jacobite Grants of Glenmoriston who had fought at Killiecrankie.
In 1745 there were 800 Hanoverian Freuchie clansmen-at-arms who did not, or would not, fight against ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie. The Jacobite Grants of Glenmoriston raised their branch of the clan to fight at Prestonpans and are credited with winning the day due to their timely reinforcement.
The Jacobite defeat at Culloden was due to inefficiency and poor tactics, though individual acts of outstanding bravery could not sway the outcome.
The Grants of Glenmoriston suffered heavily and were pursued as fugitives and outlaws. Grant of Freuchie persuaded seventy Glenmoriston Grants to return to Inverness to surrender their arms on the promise of freedom. There they were captured and sent to the colonies as slaves.
The Duke of Cumberland burned Grant of Glenmoriston’s house and destroyed his lands. His name was among those on the 1st Bill of Punishment, but it was later removed and he had his estates returned.
Having been defeated and while being hunted, ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie was given shelter by the famous ‘Seven Men of Glenmoriston,’ one of whom was ‘Black’ Peter Grant, who remained loyal to the Prince in spite of seeing everything they owned destroyed and the rewards beyond the dreams of avarice, and have earned a special place of honour in Scottish history.
After the Battle of Culloden, it was realised by the government in London that the political system in the Scottish Highlands could not continue, where Clan Chiefs ruled over their particular fiefdoms with little regard for might be decreed elsewhere. This realisation lead ultimately to the destruction of the clan system. The public policies which initially undermined the clan system included the banning of clan names; the wearing of tartan; the playing of bagpipes; the bearing of arms; and the proscription of the Episcopalian Church.
‘Good’ Sir James Grant of Grant founded Grantown-on-Spey having first used his house at Castle Grant as a training base for the masons he employed later to build the town in 1765. Grantown-on-Spey has become a notable Scottish resort since and is now regarded as the heart of Grant country by Clansmen from all over the world.
In 1811, Sir Lewis Grant succeeded to the Earldom of Seafield, and added Ogilvie to his family name as a mark of respect to his grandmother’s family.
The 7th and 8th Earls of Seafield undertook extensive re-afforestation of Strathspey, restoring its character and altering the local micro-climate.
In spite of many inducements to stay, many ordinary clansfolk emigrated though not as a result of the highland clearances. There are strong Clan links throughout the English-speaking world, which have not just endured but are growing stronger.
Name Variations: Allan, Allanson, Bissett, Bowie, Buie, Gilroy, Grant, MacCallan, MacGilroy, MacIlroy, MacKerron, MacKiaran, Pratt, Suttie, Gray.
One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Neil Grant - 2000.
Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia; George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire - 1994.
Scottish Clans and Tartans; Ian Grimble - 1973.
World Tartans; Iain Zaczek - 2001.
Clans and Families of Scotland; Alexander Fulton - 1991.
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